Throughout the Middle East, rapid and widespread use of mobile devices has transformed how consumers work and live. Large, small, and midsize enterprises as well as public-sector agencies have a unique opportunity to unlock this potential and drive business growth. To continue the momentum, these organizations need to focus on creating and implementing a mobile strategy that increases operational efficiency while also empowering employees to improve customer experience.
So much so that IDC recently predicted that spending on ICT products and services in the MEA region will reach $270 billion in 2015, making this the second fastest growing IT market worldwide. According to Oxford Business Group, Jordan’s Internet and mobile phones penetration rates are notably high, with ICT also being one of the country’s fastest growing industries. Mobile in particular will continue to drive this innovation throughout the second half of 2015.
With customers having gone mobile, what do businesses in Jordan need to do to keep up?
To continue on this mobile journey, businesses first need to understand what their employees and customers are looking for. It may be for instantaneous decision-making regardless of time and place, such as for marketing managers handling fast-paced social media conversations about their brands. For example, Zain is delivering more personalized and deeper customer communications through mobile devices across eight countries in the region. Others may demand simplicity, such as supply chain managers looking to access various inventory metrics from a single always-accessible portal. But perhaps the biggest promise of mobile is becoming more agile and empowering employees to respond faster to situations, no matter their location.
By developing dedicated mobile apps for all levels of their workforce, from field workers to management, Jordanian businesses can become agile enough to deliver levels of service that surprise and delight their customers. At the same time, they can also make the work of their employees simpler and more efficient. In fact, the pervasiveness of mobile in the consumer sphere means employees are extremely likely to understand and adopt mobile-based business transformations. After all, their own personal lives have been similarly transformed by going mobile, and usage of their own devices is increasingly non-negotiable.
Businesses would do well to work with enterprises specializing in mobile, such as trusted telecommunications and IT providers, to roll out these solutions and integrate them into their existing systems.
IBM and Apple recently announced the first wave of jointly-developed iOS apps for the enterprise to transform the way business professionals work. The Expert Tech app, for example, allows telecom field technicians to manage their appointments and get access to problem-solving resources such as video tutorials or even live video links to mentors while in the field –allowing them to reduce the scheduling window for customers by hours. For telecommunications providers in the Middle East, many of whom are competing on customer service in increasingly saturated markets, such an app could also reduce ongoing operational costs and improve customer satisfaction with regional infrastructure.
Furthermore, mobile-enabled agility doesn’t just improve existing processes. It can also create new ones. The Passenger+ app allows flight attendants to rebook passengers in mid-flight if they discover they’re going to miss their connections. Local airlines in the Middle East, whose flight schedules typically consist of many interconnected international segments, could use the app to help their customers avoid additional inconvenience when a delay occurs. That ability to turn a negative into a point of brand loyalty wouldn’t have been made possible without empowering employees to make smart decisions in the field.
Middle Eastern organizations should treat mobile solutions as a prime candidate for “as-a-service” models that allow them to cost-effectively pilot and then scale as they need. As they roll out these platforms to employees, and integrate them with sensitive back-end databases and systems of record, they will also need technology partners who can ensure a sufficient level of security and device control over these new capabilities.
Once these mobile platforms are implemented, Middle Eastern businesses will experience a level of agility that will dramatically change their operations and customer service models throughout the region—and potentially around the world.
Bashar Kilani is IBM’s Territory Executive for the Gulf and Levant